Teams arrived at the ground to see one huge field worthy of 18 a side footy. The grass was pristine and plush and the extra space was glorious, even extravagant compared to some of the grounds us die hard footy players are forced to play on around Asia. White Marquis flooded the off field areas to keep away the sun and heat of the day. Boy was the shade appreciated!
The quality of the teams was top class, comprised of the mighty Phillipines Eagles (2014 Winners), 2015 winners the Vietnam Swans, the Malaysian Warriors (2015 Asian Champs Runners up), Singapore Wombats (2014 Asian Champs), and the Hong Kong Dragons (2015 Asian Champs) entered two teams.
The spectators on the day were treated to some excellent Aussie Rules Footy on the day. Great game play, spectacular marks and courage with the ball. Great to see Asian Footy propelling to this quality level.
The day was professionally videoed so we look forward to reliving the day with that footage, coming soon!
Game Schedule and Scores:
With very strong showing from the Phillipine Eagles and the Hong Kong Dragons early in the day the day was set to be a cracker!
Malaysian Warriors cleaned up the Vietnam Swans in a competitive game.
The HK Dragons appeared in game 3 wearing their new White clash Jersey. This may have startled the Warriors who were overrun in a convincing show of force.
Singapore v Philippines was a good match to watch with plenty of high flying skills from both teams. The eagles taking this game.
Next the Vietnam Swans made some great scores against the HK Dragons with their quick linked play from one end of the ground to the other the Dragons prevailed.
The Darkside Dragons (seconds team) had a tough day, were light on numbers and were eventually comprised of players from Hong Kong, Singapore and Phillipines top ups. Unfortunately out gunned by all the top tier teams, but the players appreciated the extra run on the day. The team gave the Vietnams swans the chance to open up and score the highest score of the day. Asian Champs 2016 is planning to have seconds teams to enter the Division 2 at the 2016 AFL Asian Championships in October which should prove more competitive.
Being on a single ground meant the semi finals where watched by all spectators and other players and the atmosphere was set for the finals! The Hong Kong came out strongly against Singapore and didn’t let up.
The Phillipines superior speed showed in their semi final, linking great play up to their star captain Evan Spargo, who’s big kick booted his fair share of goals for the day.
To the Grand final: Hong Kong started well, with tough play on either side. Controlled play meant less turnovers than earlier games. Justin Bentley’s goal of the day was under pressure right on the boundary pocket leisurely slotted from about 40m through the narrowest angle.
Half time Dragons up by 2 points. The Dragons huddled tight and wanted to get back into the game, the Eagles sat down relaxed and took the loud coaching on board. The stage was set for an epic grand final!
Phillipines again showed their top fitness all over the ground, never stopped or gave in. More goals, more effort. Eventually winning buy just 1 goal 1. A hard fought final that the crowd wanted to keep going for another 2 quarters! At the Final siren the Eagles could not contain their joy and ran together to celebrate! Well done Eagles!
Special milestones of the day Malaysia’s Jason Flanagan notched up 150 AFL Asia international games (quite a mean feat when you have to fly internationally to these games), and only achieved by one other player so far (Singapore’s Rooster).
The tournament also saw off the HK Dragons Captain Dom “Bowski” Dunn after 9 seasons with the Dragons. Watch out London AFL!
Awards for the day were presented to:
Manila International Cup Champions: PHILIPPINE EAGLES
Player of the Tournament.: CAOLEN RAFFERTY (Hong Kong Dragons)
Player of the Grand Final: ADAM HOULIHAN (Philippine Eagles)
Mark of the Day: CHRIS WEISS (Philippine Eagles)
Goal of the day: JUSTIN BENTLEY (Hong Kong Dragons)
Big thanks go to the Philippine Eagles, the PAFL and the many sponsors that made the day possible.
If your company would like to get involved in sponsoring the Manila Cup, AFL Asia or the AFL Asian Championships in October please contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org so we can tailor a package for you.
Story and Photos by Darren Whitfield.